Louisiana Department of Insurance
Volume 11, Issue 6
June 2011

Commissioner Jim Donelon
Theodore "Ted" Haik, Jr., Chair
Jeff Albright, Vice Chair

Raymond J. Aleman, Sr.
Lee Ann Alexander
Paul Buffone
Sheriff Greg Champagne
Representative Page Cortez
Manuel DePascual
Nick Gautreaux
Michael Guy
Chris Haik
Lance "Wes" Hataway
Representative Chuck Kleckley
LTC John A. LeBlanc
Senator Eric LaFleur
Ann Metrailer
Robert Moorman
Senator Dan "Blade" Morrish
Stephen Schrempp
Earl Taylor
Rina Thomas

Terrell B. Moss, Director

David Evans,
Supervisor/Research Analyst

Katie Walsh, Administrative Assist./Research Analyst

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Hurricane Season is Here!

Commissioner Jim Donelon kicked off his summer storm tour last month hoping to raise awareness for hurricane and flood preparedness with experts predicting an “active” hurricane season for 2011, which began June 1.  The Commissioner continued his media appearances throughout the month of June.

With hurricane season upon us and the recent Mississippi and Atchafalaya flooding, Commissioner Donelon is imploring consumers to protect themselves and their property against Louisiana’s most frequent and unpredictable natural disasters – hurricanes and floods.  

Although Louisiana has been fortunate enough to have had uneventful hurricane seasons for the past couple of years, Commissioner Donelon reminds citizens that they should not become complacent this year.  He urges everyone to protect their homes with flood insurance as well as sufficient property insurance.

Because traditional homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage, flood insurance offered through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides Homeowners, business owners and renters with the best protection available against flooding.  Currently, only 29 percent of the state’s households have flood insurance, Donelon reports.  Residents should be aware that NFIP policies do not provide coverage in excess of $250,000 for homes and $100,000 for contents.  If additional coverage is needed, excess flood insurance may be purchased through private insurers.

Contact your insurance agent who can assist in obtaining an NFIP policy. The average flood insurance policy premium is around $500 a year. However, if your property is located in a low- to moderate-risk flood zone you may be eligible for a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy, which can start as low as $119 a year. Almost 20 percent of all flood claims occur in low to moderate-risk areas. Most flood policies take 30 days to go into effect so don’t wait until a storm is coming to purchase flood insurance.

Check with your agent to find out exactly what types of damages are covered in your homeowners policy to make sure you have proper coverage for your home and property.  When choosing the coverage that is best for you, the following tips may be helpful:

  • Be sure to recognize the difference between replacement cost coverage for your home and actual cash value. Actual cash value refers to the replacement cost of the item minus depreciation, while replacement coverage is the cost of replacing an item without deducting for depreciation. Additionally, request a recalculation of the replacement cost value once a year because the automatic increases provided by a policy might not be enough to maintain adequate coverage amounts.
  • Do an annual check-up with your insurance company to be sure you cover any increases in cost of labor and materials, additions to the home and any special purchases, such as art and jewelry that may need to be insured separately.
  • If you have any special items like art, jewelry or collections (such as stamps or coins), be sure these are covered. Photos and/or proof of their value, such as receipts or professional appraisals will streamline the claims process.
  • When it comes to the deductible — the amount you have to pay if there is a loss — usually the higher it is, the lower the premium. It’s normal to consider raising a deductible to save on premium, but remember, your share of the bill will be that much more following a claim.

Additionally, renters are also encouraged to purchase a renters’ policy.  Your landlord’s insurance only covers the structure.  No contents or personal belongings are covered unless a renters’ policy is in place.  These policies are typically inexpensive and provide essential coverage in case damage to personal property occurs.

Individuals can learn more about their flood risk and storm preparedness by visiting www.ldi.la.gov or calling our nationwide toll-free number 1-800-259-5300.

Residents can also visit www.FloodSmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419 for more information about flood risk and the benefits of purchasing a flood insurance policy.  Another source of great tips on preparing for hurricanes is the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness’ “Get a Game Plan” Web site found at www.getagameplan.org.

Beat the Heat: Child Safety Tips

There is no denying that the summer heat and humidity in Louisiana can be unbearable at times.  With temperatures breaking the 100 degree mark, overexposure to the heat can become dangerous and even deadly, especially for children.

An estimated 35 to 40 children die each year from heat exposure in vehicles, with 2010 being one of the deadliest years on record. A reported 49 hyperthermia deaths occurred last year for children ages two months to six years old.  Sadly, these deaths can be prevented.

The following tips, offered by Safe Kids North Carolina, could prevent harm or even save your child’s life during these hot summer months:

  • Never leave a child alone in a vehicle. Check to make sure all children exit the vehicle when you reach your destination.
  • Lock the doors when your vehicle is parked, and store keys in a secure location. Teach children that cars are not places to play.
  • Busy parents have a lot on their minds, so give yourself a reminder.
  • Place your purse, briefcase or other important items in the backseat next to your child's car seat so you have to look in the back before leaving the car. Also, set a reminder on your cell phone or other mobile device to remind you to drop off children when routines change.
  • Make an arrangement with your child's school or day care that you will be notified if your child is not dropped off at the normal time.
  • If you see a child or pet left unattended in a vehicle, call 911 immediately.
  • Check vehicles and trunks first if a child goes missing.

In 2009, a three-year old child from the Baton Rouge area died after apparently being left inside of a day care center’s van in the heat for several hours.  Governor Jindal signed House Bill 572- Act 200, in the 2011 Regular Legislative Session, encouraging certain child care facilities to install child safety alarms in any vehicle used to transport children.  The act becomes effective on August 15, 2011.